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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Heart of Racing Under “No Illusion” in 24H Spa Debut

Team principal Ian James on Heart of Racing’s objectives in European debut; future prospects…

Photo: SRO

The Heart of Racing is under “no illusion” on the challenge of fighting for victory in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa according to team principal Ian James, who is taking a measured yet “flat out” approach to its European debut.

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship squad has joined forces with TF Sport for a single-car Aston Martin Vantage GT3 effort featuring its GTD Pro drivers Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn plus fellow Aston Martin factory pilot Charlie Eastwood that will compete for overall honors.

James explained the deal to field a car in the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli had been in the works since the beginning of the year although has since evolved due to the global logistics situation.

“We were going to do it solely ourselves, [but with] the way global logistics is right now, and the struggle we had with our cars coming back from Dubai, I just didn’t want to take that on,” he told Sportscar365.

“Because we couldn’t do it to the level we wanted to do it.

“Obviously, TF had come over and raced against us at Daytona; they are obviously a quality organization. I know Tom [Ferrier] does a good job, so to combine our efforts seemed like a good deal.

“They just ran Nürburgring with AMR, in conjunction with those guys. They’ve won Le Mans, so [with] AMR, TF Sport, Heart of Racing, I’d say we are probably one of the top two Aston teams in the world.

“To get together and go off to do something like Spa seemed like a really great idea, so I’m glad it all worked out.”

James said the recent two-day official test “wasn’t perfect” with the team having to work through some gremlins following a chassis rebuild from the TF Sport-owned car’s last outing at the Nürburgring 24, which ended in retirement while in the lead.

The No. 23 Aston ended up 39th quickest of the 62 cars that took part.

“The car had to be re-tubbed after Nürburgring accident, so we had to work through some new car issues,” said James. “But I think we’ve got a direction for the race now.

“Obviously we are just going to go flat out. We don’t really care about points, it’s just the one race.

“There are so many great cars. Literally, you could finish 20th and have a great race.

“So, we’re under no illusion, you know. We don’t really know how the new tires suits the Aston, that’s still to be decided.

“And GT3 races are BoP-based. So, first, if we go and beat the factory car, that would be a victory for us, and then wherever we finish after that is a bonus.”

Bathurst 12 Hour a “Strong Possibility” for 2023

While no additional IGTC rounds are planned for this season, James admitted that SRO Motorsports Group’s globe-trotting GT3 championship appeals to them for a possible increased effort in 2023.

“Next year we’re looking at what looks interesting, and part of our agenda is to do these fun races that are definitely bucket list races for Gabe [Newell] and myself and the guys and the team,” he said.

When asked if a run at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour could be in the cards, James said it’s currently a “strong possibility.”

The team has yet to confirm its 2023 plans, both on the manufacturer and series fronts.

James stressed that a full-season return to the WeatherTech Championship is not fully guaranteed, which could open up the door for more international races.

“A lot of stuff is up in the air,” he said. “We’re at the end of our Aston Contract this year as well so we have to see what that looks like going forward.

“We’ll be racing, that’s for sure, but where and in what capacity… TBD.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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